As a runner who suffered a couple bad bouts with cramps last year, this story on a local tennis player who found a pickle juice cure caught my eye.
Jack Larsen, from Whitefish Bay High School, swears by the stuff; a magic elixir to the problem that thwarted his attempts to reach state in 2010.
Quoted by Dave Boehler, Larsen explained: "Depending on where I cramp, I try to stretch it out. Usually, I go straight to the pickle juice and try to chug the whole thing."
The pickle juice cure isn't new. The Philadelphia Eagles reportedly drank it to stave off cramps in a game in 100-degree weather against the Dallas Cowboys.
It's also not supported, entirely, by science.
In theory, the sodium in pickle juice would replace the electrolytes lost during strenuous exercise. That assumes that electrolyte depletion is what causes cramps. The research has been mixed on both.
This piece from The New York Times makes a good case that pickle juice works, based on an experiment conducted at Brigham Young University. But that also carries an asterisk.
"The pickle juice did not have time” to leave the men’s stomachs during the experiment, Dr. Kevin Miller points out. So the liquid itself could not have been replenishing lost fluids and salt in the affected muscles. Instead some other mechanism must have initiated the cramps and been stymied by the pickle juice.
This series in the Science of Sport also raises some good questions about the causes and cures of cramps.
It's entirely possible that pickle juice works as something of a placebo. With the mixed messages from the research, and the frustration that cramps cause, there's a strong motivation to find a simple solution and stick with it.
I'm still looking.